Menlo School junior Selina Xu left for Brazil Friday, joined by the rest of the players named to the U.S. youth national volleyball team that will compete in the FIVB U18 World Championships in Argentina.
Pool play opens on Saturday, Aug. 19 with a match against Russia. The tournament continues through Aug. 27.
Team USA will continue its workouts in Brazil and will scrimmage with the U18 national teams from Italy (Aug. 12), Japan (Aug. 13) and Brazil (Aug. 15).
"Very few players get the chance to say that they have represented the United States in South America," Xu said, from Rio. "I am beyond grateful for this amazing opportunity to play volleyball with some of the best players in the world."
Xu is the youngest setter (class of 2019) from among the four in training camp.
"I'm really proud of Selina, and of her team! I’ve always thought that when you achieve individual results your team always should get a big credit, because a good team helps you become a better person and a better player," Menlo coach Marco Paglialunga said. "She worked hard in these years to reach her ambitions and I’m happy that she was able to achieve this result."
At the end of the month, Xu will return to school and to the Menlo gym with Paglialunga, who incidentally used to coach the Italian youth and junior team. Xu and Team USA will play against some of Paglialunga's former players.
"What I told her is that, on the other hand, being selected in the U.S. team is the beginning of a journey, not the finish line," Paglialunga said. "It’s the confirmation that you’re working in the right way, but you have to go on running!"
“I think everybody’s looking forward to what’s in front of us,” U.S. coach Jim Stone said.
In 2013, the U.S. Girls’ Youth National Team made history, becoming the first U.S. volleyball team of either gender to win a world championship medal at the youth or junior level, taking the silver after losing to China in the final in Thailand.
In 2015, the U.S. earned another silver in the World Championship final against Italy.
“I think we have a lot of work to do,” libero Brooke Nuneviller said. “We have a lot to get to if we want to end up with our goal of getting a gold medal. We’ve never done that as a youth team. So I think that we need to work really, really hard if we want to get that goal, but I think we can do it if we push ourselves hard enough.”
The U.S. national team left for Brazil on Thursday to play two friendly matches against the world’s No. 1 team, before returning to play two matches in the United States.
Stanford grads Erik Shoji and James Shaw are on the American roster.
The U.S. Men, ranked No. 2 in the world, will play Brazil in Sao Paolo, Brazil on Aug. 13 and again in Manaus, Brazil on Aug. 15.
The teams will then travel to the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Ill., for two USA Volleyball Cup matches on Aug. 18 and 19.